Swings & Roundabouts

Does how we work make a difference to the outcome?

I have the privilege of working in Practices all over the country which has provided me with so many interesting insights into how work is completed. Is there a right or wrong way or is it just swings and roundabouts?

As creatures of habit, we tend to keep doing things the same way that we have always done, or how the person before us used to do it. This is particularly prevalent in many GP Practices throughout the county who continue to carry on the traditions of their predecessors.

Increasing demands on time

When we keep working with the same systems, it can become so much more difficult over time, particularly when we are trying to keep up with the increasing demands. Factors such as the U6 free GP Care scheme has certainly placed an additional strain on general practice in Ireland, which in turn has increased demand on time.

Decreasing numbers of GP’s is another factor as many newly qualified GPs are now choosing to work in places like Canada, New Zealand and Australia where they are being offered better conditions. As a result, less GPs are having to do more.

Many GPs are on fast moving hamster wheels as they try to juggle finances, manage staff, treat patients while dealing with the ever increasing administrative burden associated with patient care.

The good news is that in many cases, it doesn’t have to be like this. In my experience, the smallest changes can bring about amazing results and a slight change of mindset can bring about significant positive changes. One thing we know for sure is that if we do not make one small change, then nothing will be different. The other piece of good news is that by introducing some changes in our Practice does not mean that we have to compromise on the level of care that we are giving to patients.

I am a huge advocate for the value that General Practice and primary care provides but in order for this to continue we do need to set some boundaries and make some small changes in how we are currently doing things.

”it’s not a problem” or “it doesn’t take me that much time”

The most common thing that I hear from GPs is ‘it’s not a problem’ or ‘it doesn’t take me that much time’ but there is still only so much time in any given day. Something has to give and it’s not patient care.

A case study: A single handed teaching practice with one secretary and a part-time Practice Nurse. GP has everything under control in that there are several ‘very well organised’ piles of paperwork, some of which are for delivery to the accountant, various forms that require completion and piles of patient correspondence that needs to be reviewed.

The Secretary/Receptionist was getting increasingly frustrated as she tried to support this GP who had ‘everything under control’. The GP was reluctant to delegate as he didn’t want to overburden his secretary. This Practice which provides an excellent service to patients is a great example of a fast moving hamster wheel.

This GP didn’t have a full awareness of the business side of his Practice and was generally happy once the bills were paid, however, he was working excessive hours and quickly heading towards burnout. Following a full Practice review, a meeting was organised with the entire Practice team. Following on from this, the GP made a decision to employ another part-time secretary which has since provided many benefits. It has freed up time for his full time secretary to take over many of the tasks which he had previously been juggling.

This secretary is so much more empowered and motivated in her role. Processes are much more streamlined and it has resulted in increased income for the Practice. This has taken a lot of pressure off the GP who now has more time to concentrate on patient care and enjoys more time away from the Practice to enjoy quality family time.

Everyone has different skill sets and different people are motivated by different things,

In most cases, it is not necessary to employ more staff but to look at how we can approach work in a different way. Everyone has different skill sets and different people are motivated by different things, so it makes sense to explore this. In my experience working in Practices of all sizes, it is worth the investment to look at what tasks are being completed, how they are being done and finally looking at who the most appropriate person is to complete them.

We can stick to the ‘swings and roundabouts’ concept or we can allow ourselves to take a step back or consider employing a fresh pair of eyes. To find out more or to arrange a free consultation, click on the link below.

Asumpta Gallagher is the owner of Best Practice and has recently been awarded an All Star Accreditation as a ‘Thought Leader in Primary Care – Best Practice’. Recipients of this award go through a rigorous process which measures performance, trust and customer centricity.

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